United States Suspends Deportations to Haiti Following Hurricane Mathews

sunlight-behind-clouds-1331154On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Mathews, a category 4 hurricane, devastated southern Haiti. To date, close to 1,000 Haitians have been confirmed dead. In addition, much of the crops and buildings in the southern part of the country have been destroyed. Based on the large scale humanitarian crisis, on October 12, 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, announced that the United States would temporarily suspend all deportations to Haiti.

On January 10, 2010, Haiti was struck by a devastating 7.0 earthquake which killed at least 160,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million people. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) took steps to help Haitians in the United States. On January 13, 2010, DHS announced that it would be suspending deportations to Haiti. In addition, on January 15, 2010, DHS announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for Haitians who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. TPS allowed Haitians who qualified to remain and work in the United States for a temporary amount of time, until conditions in Haiti improved.

In the years following the earthquake, DHS continued to extend TPS for Haitians, and continued to suspend deportations to Haiti for Haitians who had not been convicted of a serious crime and did not pose a national security threat. However, on September 22, 2016, DHS Secretary Johnson announced that deportations to Haiti would immediately resume. Secretary Johnson made clear that Haitians in the United States on TPS may remain in the United States until their current TPS status expires July 22, 2017.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthews, on October 12, 2016, Secretary Johnson once again suspended deportations to Haiti. The Secretary made clear, however, that the suspension in deportations was only temporary, and that DHS intended to resume deportations to Haiti as soon as possible.

At the present time, it is not clear when deportations to Haiti will resume. DHS has not provided a time table on when they hope to resume deportations. Based on the widespread nature of the damage caused by Hurricane Mathews, it is likely that deportations will not resume for some time.

In addition, at the present time, it is not clear whether or not Haitians currently with TPS will be able to extend their TPS. Currently, TPS for Haitians expires on July 22, 2017. DHS has not provided any guidance on whether or not it expects to extend TPS for Haitians past that date.

Therefore, with all of the current uncertainty, Haitians in the United States should remain vigilant, and pay attention to future guidance from DHS.

If you are a Haitian national in the United States and would like to learn more information about your immigration options, Hartzman Law Firm is here to help. Our principal attorney, Daniel Hartzman, has helped many Haitians navigate the United States immigration system. For more information, contact Daniel by email at dhartzman@hartzmanlawfirm.com, or call him at (412) 495-9845.